In the images below you will find a series of photos from the times when homosexuality was still taboo.
The images are from the book ‘Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s’. The book collects photographs of male romance over the course of a century – with many images taken secretively so the lovers didn’t get caught.
Taken when male partnerships were often illegal, the photos here were found at flea markets, in shoe boxes, family archives, old suitcases, and later online and at auctions. The collection now includes photos from all over the world: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Japan, Greece, Latvia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Serbia. The subjects were identified as couples by that unmistakable look in the eyes of two people in love – impossible to manufacture or hide. They were also recognised by body language – evidence as subtle as one hand barely grazing another – and by inscriptions, often coded.
The journey stared when Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell came across an old photograph at an antique store in Dallas, Texas, they saw something of themselves reflected in the image.
“It represented us, so we bought the photo, took it home and had it on our desks for six or nine months,” Treadwell recalled in a phone interview from the couple’s home in New York City. “It was a random find, and we never thought we’d find another one.”
Yet, in the two decades since, the pair discovered far more — in fact, by scouring auctions, junk stores and flea markets, they’ve amassed an archive of almost 3,000 images of men in love.